Revisionist Mythmaking in 20th- and 21st-Century Women’s Poetry

This seminar will explore U.S. women poets’ revisionist mythmaking strategies–their use of Aztec, Greek, Laguna Pueblo, Yoruban, and other mythic traditions to redefine individual and collective identity; invent alternative philosophies; and enact social change. Because myths embody a culture's deep-seated, and often unacknowledged, worldviews and belief systems, revisionist mythmaking offers an important tool to effect transformation on multiple levels (psychic lives, social structures, spiritual-religious beliefs, etc.). An important literary technique for social-justice authors, revisionist mythmaking takes a variety of forms, ranging from the rejection or revision of dominant mythic traditions to the recovery of lost/ignored myths to the creation of new myths. Focusing on their innovative revisionist myths, we will explore an eclectic collection of authors, including (but not limited to) Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa, Joy Harjo, and Audre Lorde.